Cultural Activities and Fun in the Sun at Seminole Nation

The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma is located in Seminole County, 50 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, OK. The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma Tribal Youth Program is located at the Mekasukey Mission, four miles southwest of the town of Seminole. The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma creates revenue for Seminole county through their casinos. Currently, 25% of the population is Native American. One issue that the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma has been facing is that their traditional language and values are no longer at the forefront of youth culture. Additionally, drug and alcohol usage has increased significantly among youth. The Seminole Nation of Oklahoma TYP program is currently pursuing efforts to address these issues and ensure that the Seminole culture is not lost. One of the major components of the TYP program is the 5-week summer program, which offers cultural language, arts, and crafts activities; sports and wellness activities; and diabetes education for youth. The program provides youth with a safe and stable environment in which they can engage in structured activities on a daily basis. This year, the TYP program collaborated with Seminole Nation Language/Historic Preservation program to incorporate the Seminole-Mvskoke language into the 5-week summer program. Activities included introductory language classes that covered topics such as animals, colors, numbers, commands and songs. Youth ages 4 to 16 participated in the program, and were divided by age group. They included weekly presentations on a variety of subjects, including stickball, Indian football, weaving, old traditional stories and games. By incorporating their native language and culture into the daily summer program, the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma has brought youth together through an interest they all share: their identity. Program staff believe that as native people, the community can work together to combat issues such as drugs, alcohol, and gang involvement through native culture. Youth participation and community/tribal involvement has been one of the TYP program’s great successes. In the second and third years of the grant, the program increased youth participation by 75%. Another success has been community and volunteer involvement through college Native American Associations, program volunteers, parents, and tribal leaders. One challenge the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma has faced is finding transportation for youth to attend programming, as many parents are unable to drive their children to program activities. This year, the TYP program partnered with the Seminole Nation Transit Program to help assist the program in addressing this issue, which has significantly increased participation. TYP staff hope to maintain funding levels at the end of their grant to support future programming. During their four years of funding, TYP staff have established great rapport with the youth, community, school systems and tribal members, and hope to maintain these connections. Program staff believe that collaboration has been the key to successful outcomes. When others are invited to share their knowledge, concerns, and ideas, they have the opportunity to contribute to the overall success of the program.

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